The Federal Government has pledged a $76 million tourism recovery fund to encourage domestic and international visitation across Australia again following the devastating bushfire crisis.
A survey by the Australian Tourism Export Council revealed forward bookings have softened significantly compared to this time last year, which is expected to result in a $4.5 billion financial hit to the sector.
In some areas, short-term and long-term cancellations have been as high as 70 per cent.
Announcing the recovery package, which forms part of the initial $2 billion National Bushfire Recovery Fund, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia’s tourism sector is “facing its biggest challenge in living memory”.
“One in thirteen Australian jobs rely on tourism and hospitality so our $76 million investment is an urgent injection to help all those hotels, restaurants and cafes and tour operators get back on their feet,” he said.
“This is about getting more visitors to help keep local businesses alive and protect local jobs right across the country and especially in those areas so directly devastated such as Kangaroo Island and the Adelaide Hills, the Blue Mountains and right along the NSW Coast and East Gippsland in Victoria.”
The initial tourism recovery package includes:
- $20 million for a nationally coordinated domestic marketing initiative to drive visitation
- $25 million for a global marketing campaign to drive international visitation
- $10 million for a regional tourism events initiative
- $9.5 million for an international media and travel trade hosting initiative
- $6.5 million to support tourism business’ attendance at the largest annual tourism trade event, the Australian Tourism Exchange
- $5 million for the diplomatic network to educate that our tourism, international education and export sectors are open for business
Federal Minister for Tourism Simon Birmingham said the government wants to make it clear that Australia is very much open for business.
“Tourism is the lifeblood of so many communities around Australia and it’s absolutely critical that we help to get people back visiting those communities that rely on tourism,” he said.
“These bushfires have dealt the biggest reputational blow to our tourism industry that it has ever faced internationally.
“Losses caused by cancellations and collapsing booking numbers stretch well beyond those communities directly affected by fire into the many Australian towns that rely on international visitors to sustain tourism jobs.”
Birmingham said the recovery fund will “break from the practice of Tourism Australia exclusively focusing on international visitors and urgently kick off a local campaign”.
“Tourism Australia will work with all states to upscale their existing and planned efforts to increase tourism visitation,” he said.
“This will include support for efforts in both bushfire affected regions and elsewhere. We understand acutely that regions that neighbour bushfire affected regions as well as the broader national tourism sector have been impacted by this crisis.”
Tourism Australia has also created an authoritative bushfire map and information website to provide up-to-date information for visitors.